Tuesday, March 15

A first novel: Character

There is only a single piece of writing advice I have found common between writers as diverse as Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut and George Orwell. It's basic. It's to cut additional, unnecessary words.

I'm not quite at that point yet. I would need the characters and setting and all the rest of the details developed before I could begin to consider taking words out. I do, however, believe that I have found at least one additional, unnecessary thing: one of the main characters, the second eldest brother in the Lochilangor family. The intention was that he would serve as a foil to the eldest and third eldest brothers. Not as talented at football as his younger brother, he falls in with his older brother and becomes an enforcer for him. Unfortunately, so far he has been no more than a pale imitation of both. He has done absolutely nothing to distinguish himself. That is kind of the point, for purposes of theme or something, but it doesn't make for an engaging character.

I don't know what I'll do. For the time being, I'll keep him in the story. Maybe I will find some inspiration in the next month or two that makes him more interesting and a better character. Maybe not. In that case I will be scrubbing him from more than a hundred pages of story before the second draft.

I'm curious whether this is a validation of my strategy to just go with a few vague ideas and develop them on the fly or not. Had I taken the time to fully envision the characters and their situation would I have realized this earlier? Had I taken the time would I have better understood what made the second eldest unique and necessary? I don't know. I guess those sorts of questions will have to wait for their answers until I see the rest of the mistakes I'll make.

Single-spaced pages with one-inch margins? Seventy-three.
Words? Fifty-four thousand and twelve.
Named characters? Thirty-one.

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